09 December 2007

Facebook applications aren't that social, or useful

It’s been just about more than a year (if I’m correct) since the release of F8, Facebook’s platform for developers to create ‘social’ applications which Facebook users can add to their profiles and make merry. Just about more than a year later, a browse through the top 10 applications (ranked by use) shows the problem. Well, not so much of a problem; considering there is nothing wrong, but more of a worry. Atleast for me.

You see it? No?

Utterly useless

Not more than 2% of the applications have any ‘use’ value. The only part of Facebook ‘from’ Facebook they use is the userbase. Not their details. Them. These applications are trying to come up with any little excuse to make people invite more people to use them. Take ‘SuperWall’ or ‘FunWall’ for example.

These two applications do ‘nothing’ more than what the native Facebook Wall does not. The only difference? There is no difference! It’s just that people don’t know that their wall can do all those things, and more. And yet, they are top of the list, ranks one and two respectively.

What makes them tick

It seems people flock towards applications that are ‘fun’. Not necessarily useful. Application makersI’ll not call them developers, since they’re just coding; not really developing anything seem to understand this, and are resorting to making their applications dumber, and dumber so that it appeals to the common person. I can give you proof with my very own applications here.

I have three:

  1. So much to do!: This is a simple to-do list tracking application, which allows you to make lists, and show it those lists on your profile.
  2. Photos2RSS: This allows you to get photos from anywhere in Facebook as feed (RSS/JSON), which can be further used anywhere feeds can be used.
  3. Thought for the day: Another simple application to show a ‘thought’ or a quote on your profile. It also lets you tag quotes as favourites, and share them with friends.

Take a quick guess as to the order of ranks based on number of users of those applications. Answer’s at the end of the post.

So, to come back to the point I was making. I don’t know what Zuckerberg’s main motive was to creating the platform, and allowing people to develop applications on it. Maybe this ‘was’ what he wanted. Maybe it isn’t. But on thing is for sure. This defininitely undermines the genius behind the technical proficiency of F8. I can only begin to imagine the kind of work that has gone into it, and the amount of effort that goes into it everyday for maintainence and cleanup. The use it has been put to till date, doesn’t even begin to do justice to it.

Sure, it got more users to Facebook. It added value to your profile, and increased the worth of every user. But from a broader perspective, it hasn’t added ‘anything’ at all to Facebook in itself. There is no application which will make people join Facebook, because it’s true potential is only visible when you use it on the social level.

I’m currently making another application. I’ll be all hush hush about it until I’m ready to release it. It only grazes the ideas I’ve touched here, because honestly, it ‘will’ take some serious brain racking to be able to come up with a concept like that. If someone can, it should be worthy of a job at Facebook itself.

Eitherways, valued at $15 billion plus, Facebook will make him a rich guy ;)

The answer

As far as the answer to the question in the post goes, it’s:

  1. Thought for the day
  2. So much to-do!
  3. Photos2RSS

What did you think? The geek app will have most users? Phsshh… You obviously didn’t read the post properly :P


Singpolyma said...

The applications on my profile, I feel, make f8 look better ;) :

1) Explode (I have only one friend on that network, but the concept still intrigues me)
2) Twitter (which also posts itself into my FB status)
2) Notes (which imports my blog)
3) del.icio.us
4) Flickr

I like! Almost all of my FB 'activity' is actually offsite, my profile just imports.

My cousin even has a 'wall' to replace (not alongside, he deleted the normal wall) the standar wall. The difference? It posts on his opher.ca website and posts on his website go there. Talk about moves towards decentralization! (yes, I wrote hin wall app)

Avatar said...

yes, i have actually browse trough the 10k apps, and will be generous saying that only 10% have some merit in doing something right or fun, whatever.

that is 1000 apps, and from there we an break them down to:

only around 100 app are what i could consider great, that is 1% of all the apps. and that neither of those 100 app have broke 10,000 users. that is a sad sad sad reality.

i also hate that facebook is not only a wallen garden in the worst way but that it has layers of boundaries within that wallen garden.

but it was just announced that open social is going to be delayed for spring, that truly shows that opensocial will not do anything to facebook, it will only do good for google as one of their huge PR stunts they pulled this year along the 700 spectrum and android.. not a single significant development on any of that will be seen until mid 2008 and that is quite a long time in internet time.

ah, but at least they are improving blogger :P

Ramani said...

//Not more than 2% of the applications have any ‘use’ value.//

I came to this conclusion long back. Problem is not with application developers but the demographics of its users. Facebook is 2/3rd women as per this post.

Don't take me wrong but most women are not geeks (atleast not technology enthusiasts). Moreover I think there's a large number of high schoolers (they may not even know about RSS feeds).

Facebook valuation is only on paper now. Sometimes I am surprised how these analysts come up with such a valuation knowing very well that there's a large population of kids in Facebook. Now that their advertising effort Beacon is changed to opt-in model, Mark has to prove in some other way that Facebook can actually make lot of money from its users.